|The Whole World Was Watching
an oral history of 1968
The War was a Mistake
I grew up within a big family on the East Side of Providence, Rhode Island where I attended Moses Brown High School. My father was an investment banker, and my mother stayed at home. I was active in the Quakers, which was a group against the war.
I had practically no chores at home growing up until I got married. Even though I had no idea of what I wanted to do, I had no intention of selling stocks and bonds. There wasn't any discrimination in my neighborhood that I can remember. A colored maid worked for our family when I was young, and that didn't seem to pose any problem or seem strange at all. I never thought discrimination against people of color was as bad as it evidently was. I am always amazed that discrimination was such a big part of the politics in the South, and still is. Growing up, I liked to listen to jazz; Benny Goodman, black and white bands, and jazz combos. Although music was not an important part of my life, I did attend concerts for some of the "big bands" in Providence and Warwick. When I went to Moses Brown, which is a private school run by Quakers.
School didn't have much of an impact on me other than giving me an education, which I found useful later on in life. My family and only my family encouraged me to go to college. If I had it my way, I wouldn't have gone to college, but I did. Since I went on in later years to law school, I am glad that I went to college. I went to Brown University and joined a fraternity, which was a place for me to hang my hat when I was in college. I met the girl whom I married at Brown and other than that, none of my friends had any influence in my life. My wife was a very talented nurse and administrator, and I don't think she felt there was anything she could not do. I went to law school and have been practicing law ever since. I didn't really follow political and social issues when I was in school, but after I graduated, I did.
Later on after college, I joined the Socialist party, and I was a supporter of Norman Thomas for president one year (that was in 1948, when Harry Truman ran). After that, I became interested in the Democratic Party locally, and I helped both Governor Denny Roberts and Mayor Joe Doorley. I was involved in both of their campaigns and administration. I was a member of the Ward Committee in Providence and I attended all of those meetings and conventions, and I helped out preparing platforms and things on Election Day. In 1945, I went to work for the union itself, and I worked for the union until about 1954. I voluntarily left because the textile industry was shrinking. I then went to work for the state and started attending law school at night. I worked for the state until the voters kicked us out around 1959. I have been practicing the law on my own ever since.
I didn't really pay attention to the Cold War, and I thought that the anti-Communist thing was overdone. I was against nuclear testing and any development of nuclear power. I first became aware of the war in Vietnam when the government started drafting people and sending people over there. I disapproved of the United States involvement in the Vietnam conflict. I was against the whole Vietnam War and the war at home, and if there was a demonstration, I may have participated in it. I was active in the Quakers which was a group against war and attended their meetings where pacifists congregated. I attended conventions regularly, both city and state. When I saw Vietnam vets in wheel chairs and on crutches, and in body bags coming home from Vietnam, it just heightened the fact that I was opposed to the war. My opinion of the war as time went on was that it became more and more apparent that it was a mistake.
I didn't take any great action against the escalation of the Vietnam War except to speak out. I felt it was proper. I thought it was a good move when Lyndon Johnson announced on TV that he would not run for the presidency a second term, because I did not like him at that time. I wouldn't like to see anyone assassinated, and when Martin Luther King, Jr. was, it disturbed me because he was a great leader. He had a lot of good qualities including his promotion of nonviolence, and he had a lot of guts, too. I thought Martin Luther King, Jr. was a great guy. I didn't participate in the integration of public schools, but was around when it was accomplished in Providence. I knew the people who were involved in opposition to it, and I would not have allowed them in public schools either as a student, a teacher, or an administrator. Today, my summation would be that Blacks, women, Latinos, and all other minorities have come a long way in the last twenty years. Watching the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, I thought the treatment of the people who were demonstrating outside was really, really poor. It was in a way typical of political leadership in Chicago. Nixon, I think, was shrewd, and I think he shot himself in the foot with that Watergate business.